Housing stability is of the greatest importance to all of us, and in particular low income renters.
Please call or write to the City Council with the following information.
Dear Mayor Hales and City Councillors:
The Portland Biz Journal reports that the City Council is due this week to consider approving Airbnb apartment rentals. This is BAD NEWS for landlords, renters, and affordable/low income housing. Please oppose this dangerous trend. Below is an article about how Airbnb is cheating New Yorkers out of affordable apartments. Short term rentals such as Airbnb wants to have in apartment complexes are a safety threat to tenants who need to feel safe at home.
There are already illegal Airbnb short term rentals of apartments. Making them legal will not stop the illegality of some people who seek to take advantage of other tenants by renting out their apartments. Please do your homework and read this link, as well as the article I have here on NYC.
link to www.fastcompany.com
a Section 8 renter
cc: Community Alliance of Tenants
Airbnb's threat to affordable housing
The website is taking thousands of units off the market
We live in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Yet the number of housing units New Yorkers can afford is shrinking while rents are skyrocketing and wages are flat, making New York City ever more expensive for the average New Yorker.
Now, even as Mayor de Blasio makes an admirable effort to bend the trend lines, affordable housing in New York City faces a new threat that's wrapped in the sheen of tech innovation: Airbnb, the website and app that makes it easier than ever for people to rent out rooms or whole apartments for short periods of time.
In 2010, numerous other affordable housing advocates joined forces with our elected leaders to pass legislation that prevented landlords from illegally renting out their residential units as hotels.
At the time, landlords were evicting residents from affordable units and single-room occupancy buildings, opting to make more money by renting the residential units as unregulated, cut-rate hotel rooms, undermining the rent laws that protect our affordable housing and creating public safety issues.
With the advent of Airbnb, the problem has suddenly gotten far worse.
Now, with Internet access and a few minutes to spare, any New Yorker can effectively become an illegal hotel operator. According to the New York State Attorney General's Office, approximately two-thirds of the 19,522 New York City Airbnb units are being rented in violation of the law that prohibits apartment rentals lasting fewer than 30 days with the owner not present.
The service has created a dangerous underground market, which has led to increased public nuisance, decreased public safety and diminishing affordable housing stock.
Airbnb's effect on affordable housing is felt most seriously in the neighborhoods where the issue is most critical. First, there is a high concentration of Airbnb usage in neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce and rents are most expensive (like Midtown, the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village).
Second, there are high concentrations of Airbnb usage in neighborhoods where double-digit rent increases are forcing out longtime residents (like Bed-Stuy, Harlem and Williamsburg).
And if the attorney general's numbers are accurate, more than 13,000 units in New York City are being used as illegal hotels where they could be used as housing units.
Airbnb is sending a clear message to city landlords: You can make more money renting your vacant units on Airbnb, taking precious units off the market. And Airbnb is effectively encouraging tenants to violate their leases, which could put unsuspecting New Yorkers in jeopardy of being evicted.
In the meantime, Airbnb has done next to nothing to address this issue, preferring instead to gloss over its harmful effects with an expensive, slick advertising campaign.
Sure, using Airbnb to rent out a vacant room when you're home, and make a little extra money in the process, is helping some New Yorkers pay their rent — but the rent wouldn't be so high if Airbnb weren't breaking the law and taking thousands of apartments off the market, and if the city were more forcefully and consistently enforcing this law.
If we can't count on our leaders in Albany and City Hall to stop Airbnb from gutting the illegal hotel law, we can't trust them to renew and strengthen the rent laws that expire in June of 2015.
If they do nothing, vacancy destabilization and illegal hotels will eliminate the remaining rent-regulated apartments. The "tale of two cities" will get grimmer than ever.
Benjamin is executive director of the Met Council on Housing. Westin is executive director of New York Communities for Change.